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The Premier League is an English professional league for association football clubs. At the top of the English football league system, it is the country's primary football competition. Contested by 20 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with The Football League. The Premier League is a corporation in which the 20 member clubs act as shareholders. Seasons run from August to May, with teams playing 38 games each totalling 380 games in the season. It is sponsored by Barclays Bank and therefore officially known as the Barclays Premier League. In the Premier League, most of the games are played during Saturdays and Sundays, with a few games played during the weekdays.

The competition formed as the FA Premier League on 20 February 1992 following the decision of clubs in the Football League First Division to break away from The Football League, which was originally founded in 1888, and take advantage of a lucrative television rights deal. The Premier League has since become the world's most watched sporting league. It is the world's most lucrative football league, with combined club revenues of £1.93 billion ($3.15bn) in 2007–08. It is also ranked first in the UEFA coefficients of leagues based on performances in European competitions over the last five years, ahead of Spain's La Liga and Italy's Serie A.

A total of 43 clubs have competed in the Premier League, but only four have won the title: Manchester United, Blackburn Roversmarker, Arsenal, and Chelsea. The current champions are Manchester United, who won their eleventh Premier League title in the 2008–09 season, the most of any Premier League team; although Liverpool have not won the Premier League they still hold the record for most league titles of 18 which was equalled by Manchester United in the season 2008-09.

History

Origins

The original logo of The Premier League (1992–2007)


Despite significant European success during the 1970s and early 1980s, the late 80s had marked a low point for English football. Stadia were crumbling, supporters endured poor facilities, hooliganism was rife, and English clubs were banned from European competition for five years following the events at Heyselmarker in 1985. The Football League First Division, which had been the top level of English football since 1888, was well behind leagues such as Italy's Serie A and Spain's La Liga in attendances and revenues, and several top English players had moved abroad. However, by the turn of the 1990s the downward trend was starting to reverse; England had been successful in the 1990 FIFA World Cup, reaching the semi-finals. UEFA, European football's governing body, lifted the five-year ban on English clubs playing in European competitions in 1990 (resulting in Manchester United lifting the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1991) and the Taylor Report on stadium safety standards, which proposed expensive upgrades to create all-seater stadia in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, was published in January of that year.

Television money had also become much more important; the Football League received £6.3 million for a two-year agreement in 1986, but when that deal was renewed in 1988, the price rose to £44m over four years. The 1988 negotiations were the first signs of a breakaway league; ten clubs threatened to leave and form a "super league", but were eventually persuaded to stay. As stadia improved and match attendance and revenues rose, the country's top teams again considered leaving the Football League in order to capitalise on the growing influx of money being pumped into the sport.

Premier League champions
Season Winner
1992–93 Manchester United
1993–94 Manchester United
1994–95 Blackburn Roversmarker
1995–96 Manchester United
1996–97 Manchester United
1997–98 Arsenal
1998–99 Manchester United
1999–2000 Manchester United
2000–01 Manchester United
2001–02 Arsenal
2002–03 Manchester United
2003–04 Arsenal
2004–05 Chelsea
2005–06 Chelsea
2006–07 Manchester United
2007–08 Manchester United
2008–09 Manchester United


Foundation

At the close of the 1991 season, a proposal for the establishment of a new league was tabled that would bring more money into the game overall. The Founder Members Agreement, signed on 17 July 1991 by the game's top-flight clubs, established the basic principles for setting up the FA Premier League. The newly formed top division would have commercial independence from the Football Association and the Football League, giving the FA Premier League license to negotiate its own broadcast and sponsor agreements. The argument given at the time was that the extra income would allow English clubs to compete with teams across Europe.

In 1992 the First Division clubs resigned from the Football League en masse and on 27 May 1992 the FA Premier League was formed as a limited company working out of an office at the Football Association's then headquarters in Lancaster Gatemarker. This meant a break-up of the 104-year-old Football League that had operated until then with four divisions; the Premier League would operate with a single division and the Football League with three. There was no change in competition format; the same number of teams competed in the top flight, and promotion and relegation between the Premier League and the new First Division remained on the same terms as between the old First and Second Divisions.

The 22 inaugural members of the new Premier League were Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Roversmarker, Chelsea, Coventry City, Crystal Palace, Everton, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Oldham Athletic, Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, and Wimbledon.

Establishment

As of the end of the 2008–09 season, there had been 17 completed seasons of the Premier League. The league held its first season in 1992–93 and was originally composed of 22 clubs. The first ever Premier League goal was scored by Brian Deane of Sheffield United in a 2–1 win against Manchester United. Due to insistence by FIFAmarker, the international governing body of football, that domestic leagues reduce the number of games clubs played, the number of clubs was reduced to 20 in 1995 when four teams were relegated from the league and only two teams promoted. On 8 June 2006, FIFA requested that all major European leagues, including Italy's Serie A and Spain's La Liga be reduced to 18 teams by the start of the 2007–08 season. The Premier League responded by announcing their intention to resist such a reduction. Ultimately, the 2007–08 season kicked off again with 20 teams. The league changed its name from the FA Premier League to simply the Premier League in 2007.

Corporate structure

The Premier League is operated as a corporation and is owned by the 20 member clubs. Each club is a shareholder, with one vote each on issues such as rule changes and contracts. The clubs elect a chairman, chief executive, and board of directors to oversee the daily operations of the league. The Football Association is not directly involved in the day-to-day operations of the Premier League, but has veto power as a special shareholder during the election of the chairman and chief executive and when new rules are adopted by the league.

The Premier League sends representatives to UEFA's European Club Forum, the number of clubs and the clubs themselves chosen according to UEFA coefficients. The European Club Forum is responsible for electing three members to UEFA's Club Competitions Committee, which is involved in the operations of UEFA competitions such as the Champions League and UEFA Europa League.

Competition format and sponsorship

Competition

There are 20 clubs in the Premier League. During the course of a season, which lasts from August to May, each club plays the others twice, once at their home stadium and once at that of their opponents, for a total of 38 games. Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw. No points are awarded for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points, then goal difference, and then goals scored. At the end of each season, the club with the most points is crowned champion. If points are equal, the goal difference and then goals scored determine the winner. If still equal, teams are deemed to occupy the same position. If there is a tie for the championship, for relegation, or for qualification to other competitions, a play-off match at a neutral venue decides rank. The three lowest placed teams are relegated into the Football League Championship and the top two teams from the Championship, together with the winner of play-offs involving the third to sixth placed Championship clubs, are promoted in their place.

Qualification for European competitions

As of the 2009–10 season qualification for the UEFA Champions League changes. The top four teams in the Premier League qualify for the UEFA Champions League, with the top three teams directly entering the group stage. Previously only the top two teams qualified automatically. The fourth-placed team enters the Champions League at the play-off round for non-champions and must win a two-legged knockout tie in order to enter the group stage. The fifth team automatically qualifies for the UEFA Europa League, and the sixth and seventh-placed teams can also qualify, depending on the winners of the two domestic cup competitions. If one of the cup winners qualifies for Europe through their league position, the sixth-placed team in the Premier League will qualify for the Europa League. If both of the cup winners qualify for Europe through their league position, the sixth and seventh-placed teams in the Premier League will qualify for the Europa League. A further place in the UEFA Europa League is available via the Fair Play initiative. If the Premier League has one of the three highest Fair Play rankings in Europe, the highest ranked team in the Premier League Fair Play standings which has not already qualified for Europe will automatically qualify for the UEFA Europa League first qualifying round.

An exception to the usual European qualification system happened in 2005, when Liverpool won the Champions League, but did not finish in a Champions League qualification place in the Premier League that season. UEFA gave special dispensation for Liverpool to enter the Champions League, giving England five qualifiers. UEFA subsequently ruled that the defending champions qualify for the competition the following year regardless of their domestic league placing. However, for those leagues with four entrants in the Champions League, this means that if the Champions League winner falls outside of its domestic league's top four, it will qualify at the expense of the fourth-placed team in the league. No association can have more than four entrants in the Champions League.

The Premier League was recently promoted to the top of the UEFA rankings of European leagues based on their performances in European competitions over a five-year period. This broke the eight-year dominance of the Spanish league, La Liga. The top three leagues in Europe are currently allowed to enter four teams into the Champions League. The UEFA president Michel Platini, had proposed taking one place from the top three leagues and allocating it to that nation's cup winners. This proposal was rejected in a vote at a UEFA Strategy Council meeting. In the same meeting, however, it was agreed that the third-placed team in the top four leagues would receive automatic qualification for the group stage, rather than entry into the third qualifying round, while the fourth-placed team would enter the play-off round for non-champions, guaranteeing an opponent from one of the top 15 leagues in Europe. This was part of Platini's plan to increase the amount of teams qualifying directly into the group stage, while simultaneously increasing the number of teams from lower-ranked nations in the group stage.

Sponsorship

The Premier League has been sponsored since 1993. The sponsor has been able to determine the league's sponsorship name. The list below details who the sponsors have been and what they called the competition:
  • 1993–2001: Carling (FA Carling Premiership)
  • 2001–2004: Barclaycard (Barclaycard Premiership)
  • 2004–2007: Barclays (Barclays Premiership)
  • 2007–present: Barclays (Barclays Premier League)


Finances

The Premier League is the most lucrative football league in the world, with total club revenues rising 26% to £1.93 billion ($3.15bn) as of 2007–08. Eleven of the twenty Premier League teams made an operating profit in that year. Wage costs also reached €1.51 billion in 2007/08, considerably higher than that of the next highest-spending league, the Italian Serie A (at €972m). Individual salaries are rarely, if ever, confirmed in public, although a survey of players in 2006, conducted in conjunction with the Professional Footballers' Association, showed the average basic wage in the Premier League was £676,000 per year, or £13,000 per week, before bonuses. The Premier League's gross revenue is the fourth highest of any sports league worldwide, behind the annual revenues of the three most popular North American major sports league (the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association), but ahead of the National Hockey League.

In terms of world football, the Premier League clubs are some of the richest in the world. Deloitte, who annually release figures on club revenues through its "Football Money League", listed eight Premier League clubs in the top 20 for the 2005–06 season. No other league has more than four clubs in this table, and while La Liga rivals Real Madrid and F.C. Barcelona take up two of the top 3 places, no other Spanish clubs are listed in the top 20. Premier League teams have dominated the list for many years, and even topped the list for almost a decade until the 2004–05 season. After the Premier League's new TV deal went into effect, the league-wide increase in revenues is expected to increase the Premier League clubs' standing in the list, and there is a possibility that a Premier League club will be top of the list.

Another significant source of regular income for Premier League clubs remains their revenue from stadium attendances, which, with the 2005–06 average attendance of 34,364 for league matches, is the fourth highest of any domestic professional sports league in the world, ahead of Serie A and La Liga, but behind the German Bundesliga. This represents an increase of over 60% from the average attendance of 21,126 recorded in the league's first season (1992–93). However, during the 1992–93 season the capacities of most stadia were reduced as clubs replaced terraces with seats in order to meet the Taylor Report's 1994–95 deadline for all-seater stadia. The 2005–06 figure is lower than the Premier League's record average attendance of 35,464, set during the 2002–03 season, although average attendances obviously fluctuate depending on which teams are in the league.

Media coverage

United Kingdom and Ireland

Television has played a major role in the history of the Premier League. The money from television rights has been vital in helping to create excellence both on and off the field. The League's decision to assign broadcasting rights to BSkyB in 1992 was at the time a radical decision, but one that has paid off. At the time pay television was an almost untested proposition in the UK market, as was charging fans to watch live televised football. However, a combination of Sky's strategy, the quality of Premier League football and the public's appetite for the game has seen the value of the Premier League's TV rights soar.

The Premier League sells its television rights on a collective basis. This is in contrast to some European Leagues, including Serie A and La Liga, in which each club sells its rights individually, leading to a much higher share of the total income going to the top few clubs. The money is divided into three parts: half is divided equally between the clubs; one quarter is awarded on a merit basis based on final league position, the top club getting twenty times as much as the bottom club, and equal steps all the way down the table; the final quarter is paid out as facilities fees for games that are shown on television, with the top clubs generally receiving the largest shares of this. The income from overseas rights is divided equally between the twenty clubs.

The first Sky television rights agreement was worth £304 million over five seasons. The next contract, negotiated to start from the 1997–98 season, rose to £670 million over four seasons. The third contract was a £1.024 billion deal with BSkyB for the three seasons from 2001–02 to 2003–04. The league brought in £320 million from the sale of its international rights for the three-year period from 2004–05 to 2006–07. It sold the rights itself on a territory-by-territory basis. Sky's monopoly was broken from August 2006 when Setanta Sports was awarded rights to show two out of the six packages of matches available. This occurred following an insistence by the European Commissionmarker that exclusive rights should not be sold to one television company. Sky and Setanta paid a total of £1.7 billion, a two-thirds increase which took many commentators by surprise as it had been widely assumed that the value of the rights had levelled off following many years of rapid growth. Setanta also hold rights to a live 3 pm match solely for Irish viewers. The BBC has retained the rights to show highlights for the same three seasons (on Match of the Day) for £171.6 million, a 63% increase on the £105 million it paid for the previous three year period. Raidió Teilifís Éireannmarker broadcast the highlights package in Ireland.Sky and BT have agreed to jointly pay £84.3 million for delayed television rights to 242 games (that is the right to broadcast them in full on television and over the internet) in most cases for a period of 50 hours after 10 pm on matchday. Overseas television rights fetched £625 million, nearly double the previous contract. The total raised from these deals is more than £2.7 billion, giving Premier League clubs an average media income from league games of £45 million a year from 2007 to 2010. They also receive smaller amounts from media rights for the domestic cups and in some cases substantial amounts from media rights for European matches.

The TV rights agreement between the Premier League and Sky has faced accusations of being a cartel, and a number of court cases have arisen as a result. An investigation by the Office of Fair Trading in 2002 found BSkyB to be dominant within the pay TV sports market, but concluded that there were insufficient grounds for the claim that BSkyB had abused its dominant position. In July 1999 the Premier League's method of selling rights collectively for all member clubs was investigated by the UK Restrictive Practices Court, who concluded that the agreement was not contrary to the public interest. The BBC's highlights package on Saturday and Sunday nights, as well as other evenings when fixtures justify, will run until 2013. Television rights alone for the period 2010 to 2013 have been purchased for £1.782bn.

On 22 June 2009, due to the troubles encountered by Setanta Sports after it failed to meet a final deadline over a £30m payment to the Premier League, ESPN was awarded the two packages of UK rights containing a total of 46 matches that were available for the 2009/10 season as well as a package of 23 matches per season from 2010/11 to 2012/13.

Worldwide

Promoted as "The Greatest Show On Earth", the Premier League is the world's most popular and most watched sporting league, followed worldwide by over half a billion people in 202 countries, frequently on networks owned and/or controlled by NewsCorp who also own Sky Sports.

In the United Statesmarker, coverage is shared between Fox Soccer Channel, Setanta Sports USA and ESPN; NewsCorp sometimes buys pitch-side advertising boards with the Fox Soccer Channel logo replacing that of Sky. ESPN's acquisition of UK rights was originally said to have no effect on Setanta Sports in North America, which is a “separate operation that has separate agreement to show the Barclays Premier League” in the U.S. ESPN's U.S. channels later acquired two game packages that Setanta's also-financially troubled North American branch returned to NewsCorp to ensure its survival (Setanta retained about half of its original rights).

In Australia, Fox Sports , shows the games with a Viewers Choice option for up to five live games and up to nine games live on any given game-week.

The Premier League is particularly popular in Asia, where it is the most widely distributed sports programme. For example, in the People's Republic of Chinamarker, matches attract television audiences between 100 million and 360 million, more than any other foreign sport. Due to this popularity, the league has held three pre-season tournaments in Asia, the only Premier League affiliated tournaments ever to have been held outside England. In July 2003, the FA Premier League Asia Cup was held in Malaysiamarker, featuring three Premier League clubs, Chelsea, Newcastle United and Birmingham City, and the Malaysia national team. In 2005 the Asia Trophy featured a similar format, held in Thailandmarker and featuring the Thailand national team competing against three English clubs—Everton, Manchester City and Bolton Wanderers, the last of which won the trophy. In 2007, the Barclays Asia Trophy was held in Hong Kong and featured Liverpool, Portsmouth, Fulham and the Hong Kong FA Cup winning team, South Chinamarker, with Portsmouth winning the competition.

The FA has faced difficulty fighting internet copyright infringement. In an effort to stop the broadcasting of streams of live games on the net they have hired NetResult, a company that specialises in protecting trademark rights online.

Website

The Premier League did not launch their first official website, www.premierleague.com, until April 2002, although there was an existing website being run by the title sponsor Barclaycard, who intended to continue it in parallel.

Criticisms

Widening gap between lower leagues

One of the main criticisms levelled at the Premier League is the increasing gulf between the Premier League and the Football League. Since its split with the Football League, many established clubs in the Premier League have managed to distance themselves from their counterparts in lower leagues. Owing in large part to the disparity in revenue from television rights between the leagues, many newly promoted teams have found it difficult to avoid relegation in their first season in the Premier League. In every season except 2001–02 (Blackburn Roversmarker, Bolton Wanderers and Fulham) at least one Premier League newcomer has been relegated back to the Football League. In 1997–98 all three promoted clubs were relegated at the end of the season.

The Premier League distributes a small portion of its television revenue to clubs that are relegated from the league in the form of "parachute payments". Starting with the 2006–07 season, these payments are in the amount of £6.5 million over the club's first two seasons in lower leagues, although this rose to £11.2 million per year for clubs relegated in 2007–2008. Designed to help teams adjust to the loss of television revenues (the average Premier League team receives £45 million while the average Football League Championship club receives £1 million), critics maintain that the payments actually widen the gap between teams that have reached the Premier League and those that have not, leading to the common occurrence of teams "bouncing back" soon after their relegation. For some clubs, including Leeds United, Charlton Athletic, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday, Bradford City, Leicester City, Southampton and most notably Wimbledon F.C. who have failed to win immediate promotion back to the Premier League, financial problems, including in some cases administration or even liquidation have followed. Further relegations down the footballing ladder have ensued for several clubs unable to cope with the gap.

"Big Four" dominance

"Big Four" since the start of the Premier League
Season A C L M
1992–93 10 11 6 1
1993–94 4 14 8 1
1994–95 12 11 4 2
1995–96 5 11 3 1
1996–97 3 6 4 1
1997–98 1 4 3 2
1998–99 2 3 7 1
1999–00 2 5 4 1
2000–01 2 6 3 1
2001–02 1 6 2 3
2002–03 2 4 5 1
2003–04 1 2 4 3
2004–05 2 1 5 3
2005–06 4 1 3 2
2006–07 4 2 3 1
2007–08 3 2 4 1
2008–09 4 3 2 1
Another major criticism is the development of the so-called "Big Four" clubs. From the 2005–06 season onwards, the "Big Four" (Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United) have dominated the top four spots, thus a place in the UEFA Champions League. Since Liverpool won the Champions League 2005, the next four consecutive seasons have seen a Big Four club reach the final. Since Blackburn Rovers lifted the trophy in 1994–95, only three clubs have won the Premier League title – Manchester United (nine of the club's eleven titles), Arsenal (three times) and Chelsea (twice). In addition, Manchester United have not finished outside the top three since the formation of the Premier League, with Arsenal finishing inside the top five in all but two seasons (including 12 consecutive top 4 finishes and 8 consecutive top 2), while Liverpool, without an English league title since their pre-Premier League era win in 1990, have only finished outside the top 4 twice in the last 10 years. Also, in the last three seasons, three of the "Big Four" teams have reached the Champions League semi-final stage. Chelsea hold the record for the most points in a single season (95), while Arsenal are the only team in the history of the league never to lose a single match in one season (38 games played), earning them the nickname of "The Invincibles".

Also, in the last five seasons, two members of the big four have won the Champions League (Liverpool in 2005, Manchester United in 2008) and each of the big four has been a runner up in the last four years (Arsenal in 2006, Liverpool in 2007, Chelsea in 2008 and Manchester United in 2009). In recent years, the success of these clubs has led to these four teams being increasingly referred to as the "Big Four". The Big Four clubs have finished in the first four positions for the last four seasons, therefore they have all qualified for the last three seasons of the Champions League and receive the financial benefits of such qualification. The benefits, especially increased revenue, is believed to have widened the gap between the Big Four clubs and the rest of the Premier League. In May 2008, Newcastle United manager Kevin Keegan said the Big Four's dominance threatened the division, saying, "This league is in danger of becoming one of the most boring but great leagues in the world." Following Keegan's comments, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore defended the league, saying, "There are a lot of different tussles that go on in the Premier League depending on whether you're at the top, in the middle or at the bottom that make it interesting.".

Marcelo Pantanella of The Times also criticised the widening financial power of the division's top teams, naming the Premier League the 2nd worst thing about modern football, saying "What’s changed since the Premier League broke away from the Football League in 1992? Everything. If you won the First Division title, you were the best team in England. If you win the Premier League, you owe someone £500 million."

Influence on the global game

Nigerian football officials have claimed the increase in popularity of the Premier League and subsequent world wide media coverage is having a damaging effect on the national leagues of other footballing countries, with Nigeriamarker being a recent example, citing lower domestic attendances when games clash with Premier League fixtures, and the drain of young talent being lured to the Premier League by wage offers no local club can hope to match. In an extreme case of worldwide influence, after the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final, seven people died in Nigeria after clashes between rival supporters of Chelsea and Manchester United.

Miscellany

Trophy

The Premier League trophy
The current Premier League trophy was created by Royal Jewellers Asprey of London. It weighs , and is tall, wide and deep. Its main body is solid sterling silver and silver gilt, while its plinth is made of malachite, a semi-precious stone. The plinth has a silver band around its circumference, upon which the names of the title-winning clubs are listed. Malachite's green colour is also representative of the green field of play. The design of the trophy is based on the heraldry of Three Lions that is associated with English football. Two of the lions are found above the handles on either side of the trophy – the third is symbolised by the captain of the title winning team as he raises the trophy, and its gold crown, above his head at the end of the season. The trophy has borne several names on its face since it was first created, when it read "The F.A. Premier League". The one Manchester United lifted in 2006–07 read "The Barclays Premiership". From the 2007–08 season onwards, the trophy has read "Premier League" on one side and "Barclays Premier League" on the other.

In 2004, a special gold version of the trophy was commissioned to commemorate Arsenal winning the title without a single defeat.

Match balls

For the inaugural season of the Premier League, clubs were obliged to supply their own match balls, which were usually provided by the clubs' kit manufacturers. In 1993, the Premier League came to an agreement with Mitre for them to supply the league's teams with their match balls. Mitre supplied balls to the Premier League for seven years, starting with the Mitre Pro Max (1993–1995) and then the Mitre Ultimax (1995–2000) .

The 2000–01 season saw Nikemarker take over as match ball supplier, introducing the Nike Geo Merlin ball, which had been used in the UEFA Champions League. The Geo Merlin was used for four seasons before being replaced by the Nike Total 90 Aerow, which ran for another two seasons. The 2004–05 season also saw the introduction of a yellow "Hi-Vis" ball for use in the winter months. Next came the Nike Total 90 Aerow II, which featured an asymmetrical design to help players judge the flight and spin of the ball. For the 2008–09 season, the official ball of the Premier League was the Nike Total 90 Omni, which featured yet another pattern in dark red and yellow and a modified panel design, and has been replaced by the Nike T90 Ascente for the 2009–10 season, with blue, yellow and orange trim .

Clubs

A total of 43 clubs have played in the Premier League from its inception in 1992 and the end of the 2008–09 season. Two other clubs (Luton Town and Notts County) were signatories to the original agreement that created the Premier League, but were relegated prior to the inaugural Premier League season and have not subsequently returned to the top flight. For a list of all clubs past and present see List of FA Premier League clubs and an amalgamated table can be found at All-time FA Premier League table. For a list of winners and runners-up of the Premier League since its inception, and top scorers for each season, see English football champions.

Seven clubs have been members of the Premier League for every season since its inception. This group is composed of Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur.

Members for 2009–10

The following 20 clubs will compete in the Premier League during the 2009–10 season.

Club

Position

in 2008–09
First season in

/>top division
Number of seasons

/> in top division
Number of seasons

/> in the Premier League
First season of

current spell in

top division
Top division

titles
Last top division title
Arsenala,b 0044th 1904–05 93 18 1919–20 13 2003–04
Aston Villaa,b 0066th 1888–89 99 18 1988–89 7 1980–81
Birmingham City YYY2nd: Championship 1894–95 56 6 2009–10 0 n/a
Blackburn Roversmarkera 01515th 1888–89 70 16 2001–02 3 1994–95
Bolton Wanderers 01313th 1888–89 71 11 2001–02 0 n/a
Burnleyb ZZZ5th: Championship 1888–89 52 1 2009–10 2 1959–60
Chelseaa,b 0033rd 1907–08 75 18 1989–90 3 2005–06
Evertona,b 0055th 1888–89 107 18 1954–55 9 1986–87
Fulhamb 0077th 1949–50 21 9 2001–02 0 n/a
Hull Cityb 01717th 2008–09 2 2 2008–09 0 n/a
Liverpoola,b 0022nd 1894–95 95 18 1962–63 18 1989–90
Manchester Citya 01010th 1899–1900 81 13 2002–03 2 1967–68
Manchester Uniteda,b 0011st 1892–93 85 18 1975–76 18 2008–09
Portsmouthb 01414th 1927–28 33 7 2003–04 2 1949–50
Stoke Cityb 01212th 1888–89 54 2 2008–09 0 n/a
Sunderland 01616th 1890–91 79 9 2007–08 6 1935–36
Tottenham Hotspura,b 0088th 1909–10 75 18 1978–79 2 1960–61
West Ham United 0099th 1923–24 53 15 2005–06 0 n/a
Wigan Athleticb 01111th 2005–06 5 5 2005–06 0 n/a
Wolverhampton Wanderers XXX1st: Championship 1888–89 61 2 2009–10 3 1958–59
a: Founding member of the Premier League

b: Never been relegated from Premier League

Players

Premier League clubs have almost complete freedom to sign whatever number and category of players they wish. There is no team or individual salary cap, no squad size limit, no age restrictions other than those applied by general employment law, no restrictions on the overall number of foreign players and few restrictions on individual foreign players – all players with EU nationality, including those able to claim an EU passport through a parent or grandparent, are eligible to play, and top players from outside the EU are able to obtain UK work permits. The only area where the Premier League's player registration rules are more restrictive than those of some other football leagues, such as those of those of Belgium and Portugal, is that academy level non-EU players have little access to English football by law. Also, clubs competing in the Champions League or UEFA Europa League must comply with UEFA's player-eligibility rules for those competitions.

At the inception of the Premier League in 1992–93, just eleven players named in the starting line-ups for the first round of matches were 'foreign' (players hailing from outside of the United Kingdom or Republic of Irelandmarker). By 2000–01, the number of foreign players participating in the Premier League was 36%. In the 2004–05 season the figure had increased to 45%. On 26 December 1999, Chelsea became the first Premier League side to field an entirely foreign starting line-up, and on 14 February 2005 Arsenal were the first to name a completely foreign 16-man squad for a match. No English manager has won the Premier League; the four managers to have won the title comprise two Scotsmarker (Alex Ferguson (Manchester United, eleven wins) and Kenny Dalglish (Blackburn Rovers, one win)), a Frenchmanmarker (Arsène Wenger, Arsenal, three wins) and a Portuguesemarker (José Mourinho, Chelsea, two wins).

In response to concerns that clubs were increasingly passing over young British players in favour of signing less-expensive foreign players, in 1999, the Home Office tightened its rules for granting work permits to players from countries outside of the European Union. Currently a non-EU player applying for the permit must have played for his country in at least 75% of its competitive 'A' team matches for which he was available for selection during the previous two years, and his country must have averaged at least 70th place in the official FIFA world rankings over the previous two years. If a player does not meet those criteria, the club wishing to sign him may appeal if they believe that he is a special talent and "able to contribute significantly to the development of the game at the top level in the UK."

Over 260 foreign players compete in the league, and 101 players from England's domestic leagues competed in the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Koreamarker and Japan. At the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, the Premier League was the most represented league with more than eighty players in the competition, including 21 of the 23 players in England's squad.

As a result of the increasingly lucrative television deals, player wages rose sharply following the formation of the Premier League. In the first Premier League season the average player wage was £75,000 per year, but subsequently rose by an average 20% per year for a decade, peaking in the 2003–04 season, when the annual salary of the average Premier League player was £676,000.

The record transfer fee for a Premier League has been broken several times over the lifetime of the competition. Prior to the start of the first Premier League season Alan Shearer became the first British player to command a transfer fee of more than £3 million. The record rose steadily in the Premier League's first few seasons, until Alan Shearer made a world record breaking £15 million move to Newcastle United in 1996. This stood as a British record for four years until it was eclipsed by the £18 million Leeds paid West Ham for Rio Ferdinand. Manchester United subsequently broke the record three times by signing Ruud van Nistelrooy, Juan Sebastián Verón and Rio Ferdinand. Chelsea broke the record in May 2006, when they signed Andriy Shevchenko, from AC Milan. The exact figure of the transfer fee was not disclosed, but was reported as being around £30 million. This was eclipsed by Manchester City's transfer of Robinho from Real Madrid on 1 September 2008 for £32.5 million.

David James holds the record for the most Premier League appearances, overtaking the previous record held by Gary Speed of 535 appearances in February 2009.

Top scorers

(Premier League goals only)
All-time top scorers in the Premier League

Rank Player Goals
1 Alan Shearer 260
2 Andrew Cole 187
3 Thierry Henry 174
4 Robbie Fowler 162
5 Les Ferdinand 149
6 Michael Owen 146
7 Teddy Sheringham 146
8 Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 129
9 Dwight Yorke 123
10 Robbie Keane 122
As of 26 September 2009 (Bold denotes players still playing in the Premier League),(Italics denotes players still playing professional football).


Players in the Premier League can compete for the informal competitions of Goal of the Month and Goal of the Season. Other titles players compete for include the top-scorer for a season. Former Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer holds the record for most Premier League goals with 260. Shearer finished among the top ten goal scorers in 10 out of his 14 seasons in the Premier League and won the top scorer title three times. During the 1995–96 season he became the first player to score 100 Premier League goals. Since then, 15 other players have reached the mark, with Ryan Giggs being the most recent when he scored against Portsmouth at Fratton Parkmarker on 28 November 2009.

Since the first Premier League season in 1992–93, 13 different players have won or shared the top scorers title. Thierry Henry won his third consecutive and fourth overall scoring title by scoring 27 goals in the 2005–06 season. This surpassed Shearer's mark of three titles which he won consecutively from 1994–95 through 1996–97. Other multiple winners include Michael Owen and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who have won two titles each. Andrew Cole and Alan Shearer hold the record for most goals in a season (34) – for Newcastle and Blackburn respectively. Cole's record came in the 1993–94 season, while Shearer's came in 1994–95, both of which were 42-game seasons. Shearer's mark of 31 goals from a 38-game season in 1995–96 was equalled in the 2007–08 season by Cristiano Ronaldo, a mark which surpassed the record of most goals by a midfielder in a season.

Manchester United became the first team to have scored 1,000 goals in this league after Cristiano Ronaldo scored, in a 4–1 defeat of Middlesbrough, in the 2005–06 season, having been the first team to have conceded a Premier League goal following the League's inception. Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are the only other teams to have reached the 1,000-goal mark. The highest-scoring match to date in the Premier League occurred on 29 September 2007 when Portsmouth beat Reading 7-4. Five goals is the record individual scoring total for a player in a single Premier League game, and as of November 2009, only three players had achieved this feat, Andy Cole first, followed by Alan Shearer and then Jermaine Defoe. Only Ryan Giggs of Manchester United has scored in all 18 Premier League seasons.

Premier League Stadia 2009–10

Home Club Stadium Name Capacity
Manchester United Old Traffordmarker 76,213
Arsenal Emirates Stadiummarker 60,355
Sunderland Stadium of Lightmarker 49,000
Manchester City City of Manchester Stadiummarker 47,726
Liverpool Anfieldmarker 45,522
Aston Villa Villa Parkmarker 42,573
Chelsea Stamford Bridgemarker 42,055
Everton Goodison Parkmarker 40,158
Tottenham Hotspur White Hart Lanemarker 36,310
West Ham United Boleyn Groundmarker 35,303
Blackburn Roversmarker Ewood Parkmarker 31,367
Birmingham City St. Andrew'smarker 30,016
Wolverhampton Wanderers Molineuxmarker 29,303
Bolton Wanderers Reebok Stadiummarker 28,723
Stoke City Britannia Stadiummarker 28,383
Fulham Craven Cottagemarker 25,678
Hull City KC Stadiummarker 25,404
Wigan Athletic DW Stadiummarker 25,138
Burnley Turf Moormarker 22,546
Portsmouth Fratton Parkmarker 20,688


Women's Premier League

The National Division of the FA Women's Premier League is the Premier League's female counterpart. Most of its clubs are affiliated with Premier League and Football League sides; however, teams are semi-professional; no professional teams have existed since Fulham returned to semi-pro status in 2003. The league comprises 12 clubs, operating a system of promotion and relegation with the Northern Division and Southern Division. The champions of each are promoted to the National Division, and the bottom two National Division clubs are relegated.

Since forming in 1993 the Women's Premier League has been dominated by Arsenal, who have won ten of the fifteen league titles. The women's game has a much lower profile than that of the Premier League, with Women's Premier League teams typically playing matches at grounds owned by non-league men's clubs.

See also



References

  1. http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/163676000-the-average-salary-of-a-premiership-footballer-in-2006-473659.html
  2. Football Club History Database
  3. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/premier_league/article5589815.ece Times Online – The Times’s 50 Worst Things About Modern Football
  4. BBC News Is Premier League killing Nigerian football?, 28 July 2008
  5. http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/51204716/Getty-Images-Sport
  6. www.premierleague.com/page/Statistics/0,,12306,00.html


External links




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